Israel Scraps Plans to Forcibly Deport or Imprison 30000 African Asylum Seekers

Netanyahu: Though migrants can stay, detention centers will reopen

According to Aljazeera, Israel faced fierce criticism from human rights groups for seeking to forcibly deporting tens of thousands of mostly African asylum seekers.

The plan had targeted some 42,000 migrants of Eritrean and Sudanese origin now living in Israel.

In a written response to the country's Supreme Court, the government said forced removal of the migrants "is no longer on the agenda".

"Following the refusal of third countries to accept the infiltrators under the conditions demanded by Israel, I agreed with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to immediately prepare for the reopening of the detention facilities for infiltrators, to advance the [Knesset] override bill to enable us to proceed and promote additional ways to solve this problem", Netanyahu said in a statement.

African asylum seekers and activists protest against plans to deport migrants at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2018.

The asylum-seekers' future is still unclear, since many of them have no official status in Israel.

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Since 2013, some 4,000 migrants have left Israel for Rwanda and Uganda under Israel's voluntary program. Few weeks ago, Israel pulled out of a United Nations -backed relocation plan and continued with arrangements to relocate the migrants to Uganda against their will.

The fate of some 37,000 Africans in Israel has posed a moral dilemma for a state founded as a haven for Jews from persecution and a national home.

A number of migrant rights groups petitioned the Supreme Court to block any such policy.

Israel is still conducting what it calls "voluntary" deportations, though in reality there is nothing voluntary about them. "Israel remains under the obligation not to transfer anyone to a country" where they would be unsafe, said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Israeli authorities have been handing out notices to asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan since the beginning of the year.